Tomatoville® Gardening Forums


Notices

Have a great invention to help with gardening? Are you the self-reliant type that prefers Building It Yourself vs. buying it? Share and discuss your ideas and projects with other members.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old November 25, 2008   #1
rnewste
Tomatovillian™
 
rnewste's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Campbell, CA
Posts: 3,648
Default The EarthTainer II WaterMizer Edition - - New, Improved...and FREE!

As many of you have followed the saga of the EarthTainer construction on TomatoFest, as well as the "Myth-Busters Trials", I have now field-tested an improved version and it is available on the TomatoFest Website here:

http://www.tomatofest.com/pdfs/Earth...tion-Guide.pdf

The primary improvement has been to incorporate a 5" diameter wicking basket instead of the 9" by 9" large square basket.



This permits 20% more potting mix in the same 31 gallon container for greater plant / root development and parses the water to the tomato plant so that the mix remains in the "Moist" range, reducing water usage and that lost to evaporation (hence the moniker: "WaterMizer") . . . catchy, don't you think?



Anyway, the Price is right - FREE so enjoy and by the way, I have included simple instructions on how to retrofit your existing EarthTainer I to the improved design.



Ray
rnewste is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 25, 2008   #2
Woodchuck
Tomatovillian™
 
Woodchuck's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 64
Default

Thanks for all the great information Ray.
I plan to build an EarthTainer for the sole purpose of growing ginger. I've never been able to keep up with ginger's watering needs in the past.


~Woodchuck
Woodchuck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26, 2008   #3
newatthiskat
Tomatovillian™
 
newatthiskat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Location: texas
Posts: 1,458
Default reply

THanks for the new info! I have asked for totes for Christmas. People are thinking I am crazy
Kat
newatthiskat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26, 2008   #4
amideutch
Tomatovillian™
 
amideutch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Germany 49°26"N 07°36"E
Posts: 4,619
Default

Ray, so you are relying solely on capillary effect for the water to wick up through the landscaping fabric as the wicking basket is covered when you apply the fabric, correct? Ami
__________________
Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways,
totally worn out, shouting ‘...Holy Crap .....What a ride!'
amideutch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26, 2008   #5
rnewste
Tomatovillian™
 
rnewste's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Campbell, CA
Posts: 3,648
Default

Ami,

Yep, hard to believe that this new smaller wicking basket keeps 3.3 cubic feet of potting mix quite moist. I never would have believed it - - but here is proof positive of a Purple Haze planted in early August, and is now doing well into November in its EarthTainer II design:



The wicking action permeates through the landscape fabric just fine, and my goal is to contain the root system from growing down into the water reservoir.

Ray
rnewste is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26, 2008   #6
cdevidal
Tomatovillian™
 
cdevidal's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Posts: 22
Default

A beautiful work, and parts cost $41 for tall toms, which is quite a savings over the EarthBox, $87.90* -- plus shipping!! * EarthBox base is $54.95 and $32.95 for the tomato staking system, and that's only 61" tall, a full 15" shorter than EarthTainer+extension. Add in any savings you might get with bulk buys and sale items and you could save not only lots of money but also lots of water.
cdevidal is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26, 2008   #7
rnewste
Tomatovillian™
 
rnewste's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Campbell, CA
Posts: 3,648
Default

cdevidal,

I want to be clear that the EarthTainer is not a competitor to the EarthBox product from the good folks at the EarthBox Company. Blake and his Company are doing many humanitarian projects around the world, and I support them as a "customer" for their Automated Watering System and I own EarthBoxes purchased from them too.

In doing any cost comparison, you also need to count in your time and tools to the final equation. I roughly calculated my "true" cost of each EarthTainer is closer to $100 at the end of the day, which is more expensive than an EarthBox ready to use.

Having said that, my concern with the EarthBox (for me) was that it only held about 1.5 cubic feet of potting mix, and I wanted a vessel that would hold at least 3 cubic feet in order to grow large heirloom tomatoes and sweet corn. The 31 gallon Rubbermaid size 'Tainer fit the bill perfectly.

So if you are planting vegetables such a peppers, the EarthBox is an ideal solution. If your goal is really big tomato plants and crops such as sweet corn, then building an EarthTainer may be the way to go. It's nice to have choices.....

Ray
rnewste is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26, 2008   #8
ContainerTed
Tomatovillian™
 
ContainerTed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 6a - NE Tennessee
Posts: 2,545
Default

After reading all these posts and going over to TF and reading your updated instructions, AND after Ami's question, I am not crystal clear on one point. When you put the landscape fabric into the bottom, do you cover the hole made for the wicking basket so that there is soil to fabric to soil contact, or do you do a cut out of the landscaping fabric over the new 5" wicking basket???
__________________
Ted
Owner/Operator
Muddy Bucket Farm
ContainerTed is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 26, 2008   #9
rnewste
Tomatovillian™
 
rnewste's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Campbell, CA
Posts: 3,648
Default

Ted,

I first fill the 'Tainer with water until it hits the level of the overflow holes. Then I fill the 5" diameter wicking basket with potting mix and compress it down so it is thoroughly wet. I mound it up like the top of a cupcake about 1" above the surface of the aeration bench (This is to account for any long term compression inside the wicking basket). You never want an air-pocket to develop in between the landscape fabric and the top of the potting mix in the wicking basket or the system will stop wicking.

Next, I place the landscape fabric on top of the aeration bench, wet it over the mound of potting mix, and then pat it with my hand to commence the moisture transmission. No slits at all in the landscape fabric, other than to skirt around the filler tube. I then add the 3.3 cubic ft. of potting mix, 2" layers at a time, soaking it with water to make sure the entire mix is moistened.

Do you think I need more clarity in the Guide, and if so, I will add these above details in the next Rev.

Ray
rnewste is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 27, 2008   #10
ContainerTed
Tomatovillian™
 
ContainerTed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 6a - NE Tennessee
Posts: 2,545
Default

Ray, I just went back and re-read the instructions. My experience as a tech writer tells me this.

If I had never seen the instructions for your first versions, I might assume no cutout over the wicking basket. I also might not catch the importance of the mounding and packing of the wicking basket. You had a lot of emphasis on the contact of the wicking area to the main body in the previous versions. If it were me, I would add something (like the paragraph you wrote in your previous post above) somewhere near step 3 or step 4 on page 13. I think it's very important that you be crystal clear on the packing down and the mounding and its importance. The folks who have already made some of the original designs need something to catch their eye or they might skim-read and miss this important change. This additional paragraph would give you a chance to really emphasize the point.

Besides, if two or more people named "Ted" ask the same or a similar question, .......Well........you know.......... 8)
__________________
Ted
Owner/Operator
Muddy Bucket Farm
ContainerTed is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 28, 2008   #11
dice
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PNW
Posts: 4,750
Default

While explaining the mounding over the wicking basket is a
good idea, I think people who miss that will probably get away
with it, simply because any landscape fabric that will absorb
water will also stretch when pressure is applied to it while it
is wet. The same pressure that compresses container mix
in the wicking basket would also push the landscape fabric
above it down into the top of the wicking basket, so soil to
fabric contact will be maintained.

Edit:
(There is no way for pressure above the fabric to compress the container
mix in the basket without pushing the fabric down into it too.)

There may be a different issue that instructions to mound up soil
above the wicking basket before adding landscape fabric may help
with, which is setting the whole thing up dry before adding any
water.

One thing to try: take a wicking basket on its own, outside the container,
and fill it with dry container mix, then set it in a bowl of water. After it
soaks up the water, check the level of mix in the wicking basket
to see if it still comes up to the top. Even if that happens (if users set
up the whole thing with dry container mix then add water via the fill
tube), the weight of mix above the fabric may still deform it down into
the gap created as container mix in the wicking basket loses volume
when it soaks up water the first time.

Instructions to mound up mix in the basket before adding the landscape
fabric should eliminate possible problems with setting the whole thing
up dry before adding water via the reservoir (which is the way most
gardeners transplant and repot: they use dry mix, wet it once the plant
is transplanted, then fill in a little around the top to level the mix
in the container).
__________________
--
alias

Last edited by dice; November 28, 2008 at 02:28 PM. Reason: additional detail
dice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 28, 2008   #12
rnewste
Tomatovillian™
 
rnewste's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Campbell, CA
Posts: 3,648
Default

Hi Dice,

My assessment is that the landscape fabric is quite inelastic, and does not stretch under weight. My concern is that with the water reservoir constantly filling and dropping via wicking, I was concerned that the potting mix in the basket would be depleted over time.

As the weight of the 3.3 cubic feet of the potting mix holds the inelastic fabric in place, it is not very likely that the area over the wicking basket will "droop" down into the wicking basket.

It only takes a broken air gap if 1/4" or so to prevent the moisture in the water reservoir from wicking up into the 3.3 cu. ft. potting mix. So I erred on the conservative side to make the 1" mound over the wicking basket to compensate for the settling that will naturally occur. Also, by making that cupcake mound initially, the landscape fabric is then in a convex form, and will leave flexing of the material to eventually form a concave shape as the mix in the wicking basket settles. Make sense??

Ray
rnewste is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 29, 2008   #13
dice
Tomatovillian™
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: PNW
Posts: 4,750
Default

Quote:
Make sense?
Sure, I think it is a good idea. It is just that most of the
landscape fabric that I have used was fairly soft and pliable
once it was wet, and I still think that stuff may deform into
the hole with wet soil above it. (I have seen so-called
"commercial grade" landscape fabric that was made of different
material, seemed like a plastic or some kind of fiber with a slick
coating on it, that probably does not have the same
characteristics).

I can see fine material being carried out of the wicking basket
by water over time and dispersing in the reservoir, so it makes
sense that the original mix in the wicking basket will lose
volume. I did not particularly pack it in there this year, because
I was not using landscape fabric beneath the container mix and
expected no problems with wicking, but I will probably
remember this detail the next time I set one up.:-)
__________________
--
alias
dice is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 29, 2008   #14
ContainerTed
Tomatovillian™
 
ContainerTed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: 6a - NE Tennessee
Posts: 2,545
Default

I will be building several "tub" types for next year. I am electing to cover sides of the wicking device with landscape fabric as well. This is solely to minimize the amount of material from being carried off by the water.

Ray, have you thought about cutting an "X" (of some size) in the landscape fabric over the wicking basket, to help minimize the settling of the growing medium???
__________________
Ted
Owner/Operator
Muddy Bucket Farm
ContainerTed is offline   Reply With Quote
Old November 29, 2008   #15
rnewste
Tomatovillian™
 
rnewste's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Campbell, CA
Posts: 3,648
Default

Ted,

Here is proof-positive as to why I will NOT cut any openings in the landscape fabric:



The root system will clog up the wicking basket if you cut an "X" in the landscape fabric above it. The cupcake mound is the best way that I have found to assure continuous contact of the potting mix in the wicking basket with the mix above the landscape fabric layer.





Ray
rnewste is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:43 AM.


★ Tomatoville® is a registered trademark of Commerce Holdings, LLC ★ All Content ©2014 Commerce Holdings, LLC ★